A NORTH East MP has insisted reports of his death are an exaggeration after rumours swept his constituency that he had died.
Whispers grew across Blyth Valley from Sunday night that Labour MP Ronnie Campbell had had a fatal heart attack.
One councillor had heard the 66-year-old MP had collapsed while filling up his car at a petrol station.
Mr Campbell had visits from worried family members on Monday and yesterday his sister arrived in tears, as well as phone calls from people as far afield as County Durham and constituents turning up at his home.
The MP contacted The Journal and also updated his status on social networking internet site Facebook, to let people know he is alive.
Mr Campbell believes the rumour may have been started by a man who visited his constituency office on Renwick Road, Blyth on Friday.
The man was abusive to staff and was involved in a heated exchange with the MP.
Mr Campbell also thinks the rumour may have been spread on Facebook as several people who contacted him mentioned learning of his apparent death on the site.
The MP has insisted there are no grounds for the rumours as his last medical check revealed that his blood pressure was fine – although he was overweight.
He said: “On Sunday night I was getting calls and even people coming to the door after hearing about my lack of health.
“I can assure everyone, even the Lib Dems and Tories, that such stories about my death are not true or at least I think they aren’t. I now know what Mark Twain meant when he made his famous statement (‘The reports of my death were an exaggeration’).
“For the record, I spent Sunday morning out with the local Labour party members in Seaton Delaval and feel as fit as a fiddle. Whoever started the rumour did a good job because enquiries have come in from all over the place and local party members have also been contacted with queries.
“Don’t worry – I am here to make sure Gordon Brown and the rest of the Government keep on listening to Blyth Valley. I won’t go that easily.”
Mr Campbell believes people being able to put false and malicious statements on social networking sites, which are seen by so many people, can be a problem.
He said: “You can put malicious things on and leave them and let them do their worst. It is a worrying thing when these Twitters and these Facebooks can do things like this.”